Thursday’s College Football Betting Picks & Odds for Louisiana-Arkansas State, UCLA-Stanford

Thursday’s College Football Betting Picks & Odds for Louisiana-Arkansas State, UCLA-Stanford article feature image

Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Austin Burton

  • Looking for betting odds and picks for both of Thursday's college football games? You've come to the right place.
  • Our experts breakdown the latest spreads and over/unders for ULL-Arkansas State (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU) and UCLA-Stanford (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Louisiana at Arkansas State Betting Odds & Picks

  • Spread: Louisiana -6.5
  • Over/Under: 68
  • Time: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET

Louisiana vs. Arkansas State Line Movement

The movement on this point spread has been nothing out of the ordinary, as sportsbooks look to simply be limiting their monetary liability on Louisiana. The Cajuns have drawn 61% of bets and 62% of money and have moved slightly from -5.5 to -6.5.

The total has been a bit more interesting, as a significant discrepancy between bets (53%) and money (85%) on the over has pushed this number from 66 to 68. — Danny Donahue

Check out PointsBet, where Action Network users get an exclusive 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).

Wilson: Two Very Different Offenses Meet

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette provided bettors with one of the more frustrating losses of the season against Appalachian State in Week 7.

The Mountaineers got the ball back with a 10-7 lead and essentially killed the game with a 19-play scoring drive that lasted over 10 minutes. Louisiana is not a quick-strike offense, so that left Levi Lewis in a tough spot, needing to put up points in a hurry.

Arkansas State will not be putting together those kind of drives on Thursday night. The Red Wolves rank 75th in offensive success rate and 123rd in time of possession.

This game’s biggest question is if Arkansas State can stop the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns on the ground. UL Lafayette ranks 7th in success rate. It’s not a good matchup for the Red Wolves as they’ve been decimated by injury and rank 116th in power success and 88th in stuff rate defensively.

The Cajuns should have their way on the ground, assuming Billy Napier has learned from his play-calling mistakes against Appalachian State.

Our Action Network power ratings make Louisiana a 2.5-point favorite, which indicates this line is inflated by Arkansas State’s injuries and its inconsistencies.

Our Action Network power ratings make the game Cajuns -2.5, which indicates the line is inflated by Arkansas State injury and inconsistencies. That makes sense considering the Red Wolves recently gave up 722 yards to Georgia State and 526 yards to Southern Illinois. Even worse news is half of those yards came on the ground,

However, Arkansas State’s defensive line will get a huge boost with the return of Kevin Thurmon and nickel-back Darreon Jackson. This defense should be better equipped to handle a terrific run defense.

Assuming the Arkansas State defense will regress towards the mean and post average results, its passing attack should keep them in this game. Quarterback Layne Hatcher, an Alabama transfer, has struggled with interception issues, but he should be able to move the ball on Thursday night. The offense ranks 22nd in passing explosiveness and that should expose Louisiana’s biggest weakness on defense. The Cajuns rank 118th in opponent pass explosiveness, which suggests Arkansas State should get some quick strikes to keep this game in range.

The Pick: Arkansas State +7 or better

Stuckey: Is This Total Too High?

Thanks to roster turnover and a litany of key injuries at every level, the Arkansas State defense is an absolute mess.

The Red Wolves are allowing 6.4 yards per play (116th in the nation) and a whopping 537 yards per game, which ranks second-to-last in the country, trailing only lowly UMass.

The numbers are bad no matter where you look, especially against the run, which matters the most against Louisiana’s prolific rushing attack, which averages 6.9 yards per carry.

The Ragin’ Cajuns should carve up this defense at will. And I’m expecting Trey Ragas, who leads the country with an average of 9.1 yards per carry, and Raymond Calais, who ranks fifth in that same category, to put up gaudy numbers.

Arkansas State features a fast-paced aerial attack that ranks in the top 10 in pass rate this year. Led by star wide receiver Omar Bayless, the Red Wolves are tied with UCF for the most pass plays over 30 yards with 19.

Bayless leads all of college football in receiving yards (843) and is tied at the top of the leaderboard with Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb with 10 receiving touchdowns. Arkansas State lost quarterback Logan Bonner for the year earlier this year but Alabama transfer Layne Hatcher has filled in admirably and actually taken the passing offense to another level, completing almost 10% more passes and averaging over four yards more per attempt than Bonner.

Louisiana has only allowed three completions of 30-plus yards all year (tied for third-fewest) but still ranks 118th in pass explosiveness — which is only a marginal improvement from a unit that ranked 125th in defending pass explosiveness last year. Arkansas State will hit a few big plays to Bayless through the air.

I can’t emphasize enough how bad the Arkansas State defense has been this year. It’s one of seven teams allowing over 38 points per game. I’d be surprised if Louisiana doesn’t get there. Both offensive lines should control the line of scrimmage and we should see an abundance of explosive plays throughout.

I’m not scared off after last week’s failed Over with Louisiana. I played the over 68 (which I like up to 70) and will be hunting for Louisiana live at a PK or better in what should be a solid live-betting game.

The Pick: Over 70 or better

UCLA at Stanford Betting Odds

  • Spread: Stanford -3.5
  • Over/Under: 49.5
  • Time: Thursday, 9 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article was published before Stanford announced that Davis Mills will miss the game due to injury. It was updated at 10:45 a.m. ET.

The steam on UCLA has been the story in this matchup.

Circa opened this market at Stanford -10 and despite the fact that the Bruins have lost 11 straight in this series dating back to 2008, this line moved all the way down to -3.5 at most shops because Stanford will be trotting out its third-string quarterback Jack West, a 4-star sophomore out of Alabama. West has one completion in five attempts from the 2018 season.

The total has also crashed, moving down to 49.5.

UCLA is 1-5 against the spread this season and just lost to Oregon State, giving the Beavers their second Pac 12 victory since 2016. The Bruins have been awful outside of a second-half explosion against Washington State a few weeks ago.

UCLA is also dealing with injuries under center as quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson may sit this game out, though he did return to practice this week despite an ankle injury.

How to Bet These Two Bad Offenses

No matter if its Thompson-Robinson or backup Austin Burton calling the signals, this is an offense that has not had a lot of luck in 2019. The good news is that UCLA’s won’t be the only struggling attack on the field on Friday night.

Both Stanford and UCLA rank outside the top 75 in offensive success rate and own negative differentials in yards per play. They also struggle finishing drives, as Stanford sits 112th in points per red zone trip and UCLA is 102nd in red zone scoring percentage.

The clock should be moving in this one as Stanford running back Cameron Scarlett has emerged as one of the best rushers in the conference, and thus I’d expect the Cardinal to go with a heavy ground attack.

With a moving clock and two struggling offenses, the Under will be my first look but considering UCLA has shown a penchant for scoring most of its points in the second half, the first-half under seems like a sound investment strategy. That also gives us the chance to bet on West not being in rhythm with his offense from the jump.

Please note that I played this number at 27 before the switch to West, but I think there’s still value taking it at 24 or better.

The Pick: First-Half Under 24

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